Where Resemblances Begin - Gore Vidal


Gore Vidal is often remembered as the witty, one-liner spinning poster boy of the Left of his day. However, his temperamental distance to some of the Right's most dissident of dissidents today is a bit blurry upon examination. A piece of Doug Henwood's interview with him below represents only a feeble beginning to such resemblances.

Doug Henwood: There is this long-standing, kind of right-leaning nativist critique of Empire and centralizing power. What affinities or lack of affinities
do you feel in that?

Gore Vidal: Well, look at Pat Buchanan, who borrowed a great deal from me, for “A Republic, Not an Empire.” That is what I’ve been saying for half a
century, that we’re not in the Empire business, or we should not be in
the Empire business, because we’re not very good at it, and we have so
much wrong in our own country. So there is a moment, I would suspect,
that the far-right has to have something positive to talk about, instead
of worrying about getting rid of the inferior breeds, or what they think
of as the inferior breeds. So, the anti-imperial is an interesting
thing for them to take up, ’cause I’d think they’d be on the other
side. But as many people want to join that, why not?

Looking at Vidal's catalogue of essays, memoirs and various articles over the years, one sees him deconstructing and often just making cracks about the Jewyness of Jews, feminists, gay culture, and provincial literature praised for little more than being written by members of minority groups. It is not insignificant that he expressed admiration for Spengler's work, precisely for its non-progressive interpretation of history. One should also keep in mind that he, in one interview, spoke of his youthful admiration for Mussolini. Another interview sees him endorsing the idea of a highly centralized state-instituted program designed for the purpose of regulating eugenic and dysgenic projects on a global scale.

Furthermore, people remember that he called William F. Buckley a 'crypto-nazi,' but people often forget that he also challenged Norman Mailer's physical strength and masculinity, called D.H. Lawrence 'a faggot,' and, despite referring to himself as a socialist, was constantly at odds with Marxist intellectuals who seldom missed an opportunity to dox his privilege and aristocratic manner. 

He even incited the fevered witch-huntery of Christopher Hitchens, who tried to destroy Vidal's collected and cool image by painting him as a crackpot conspiracy theorist. Vidal's beautifully complete dismissal of Hitchens and total silence on the matter nearly drove Hitchens into a tizzy of frustration - perhaps the one unconsummated attempt at battle in all of Hitchens' boring-ass political and ideologically driven career of gotcha's and moralistic public shamings.

Vidal is certainly no proof of horseshoe theory. If anything, he simply reaffirms the truth that there are different Lefts and Rights, especially at different points in time. But then, perhaps it would be unfair to too rigidly think of Vidal in political terms - the very man whom Italo Calvino described as 'not possessing a subconscious.'

NOTE: Someday I will track down all of these references, but at the moment, regrettably, I just can't be bothered.